Why Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Period’ Legislation Is So Dangerous

The legislation has been described "absurd."

Florida lawmakers don’t want educators to say period – and it seems as though they may have got their wish.

The US State recently a passed a regressive Bill that would stop any teachings or discussions of menstruation in schools for students under the age of 12.

The Bill, put forward by Republican Stan McClain, would only allow teachings around “acquired immune deficiency syndrome, sexually transmitted diseases, or health education” in grades six to 12.

This means that only children aged between 12 to 18 attending public Florida education would be taught any content relating to sexual health, sexual education, and even more shockingly, menstruation.

The regressive legislation, which has since been dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Period’ law, has been the subject of much criticism – and with good reason.

The law will not only hinder students from learning vital information about their own bodies, but also (incorrectly) presumes that girls do not get their periods before the age of 12. In actual fact, many girls begin menstruation a lot younger than that.

via Polina Zimmerman

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2019, the average age a girl gets her period in the US is 12, with almost one fifth of girls starting menstruation at aged 11. Other sources like Cleveland Clinic state that some girls get their periods as early as age 9.

Understandably the law, which passed through the House and Senate on July 1, has received much backlash from women’s rights and health organisations, as well as many Democrats, who have dubbed it archaic.

In a Reel shared to Instagram earlier this year, State representative Ashley Gantt pointed to the predicted reality for many girls should this Bill become law.

“Imagine a little girl in fourth grade, going to the bathroom and finding blood in her panties and thinking that she is dying,” she said. “She doesn’t actually know what’s going on, and her teacher does not even have the ability to tell her that this is a part of life.”

Gantt also asked McClain directly: “If little girls experience their menstrual cycle in 5th grade or 4th grade, will that prohibit conversations from them since they are in the grade lower than sixth grade?”

McClain confirmed yes, “it would.”

Planned Parenthood have dubbed the law “absurd”, but unfortunately, this isn’t the only restriction girls and women in Florida are facing.

The State recently passed a law banning abortion after six weeks, further restricting women’s access to healthcare. Previous to this, abortion was not legal after 15 weeks and patients were required to make at least two in-person visits to a clinic before a termination was approved.

Elsewhere, LGBTQ+ rights are also in jeopardy as Florida governor Ron DeSantis recently signed four new Bills further restricting the rights of young LGBTQ+ people in schools and members of the trans community.

Where so many countries are making great progress when it comes to menstrual education and period product access, the US is once again regressing – to times when periods were shameful and women and girls were vastly undereducated about what was going on in their own bodies.

Laws such as these aren’t protecting anyone. They’re restricting education, as well as personal growth, and prohibiting young girls from receiving information they desperately need.

Menstruation isn’t controversial, it’s a fact of life. Period.


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